Gongol.com Archives: 2016 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

June 5, 2016

Health Why our fingers wrinkle

It appears to be a physiological response to permit us to grasp things with wet hands

Business and Finance A potential case for demolition bonds

Small communities are having trouble paying to remove old buildings that have outlived their usefulness (and often contain perils like asbestos). It may make some sense to require every new building to come with a bond for its own demolition. The costs are real, even if we don't think about them.

Humor and Good News Denmark's kinda-creepy way of reversing population decline

If the young people aren't making enough babies, shame them into doing it for Grandma. And get Grandma to kick in for the cost of a romantic vacation.

Aviation News Delta says 90% of flights will come with free onboard entertainment by July

A few hundred movies and several hundred TV episodes will be available over the WiFi signals in Delta planes. That's a huge change from just a few years ago, when most electronic signals were forbidden in-flight.

Computers and the Internet Alphabet/Google subsidiary Nest moves CEO to "advisory" role

The transition from startup to subsidiary isn't always an easy or satisfying one

Broadcasting Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - June 5, 2016

Live on WHO Radio (AM 1040) starting at 9:00 pm Central Time, or streamed on iHeartRadio

June 4, 2016

Broadcasting Show notes - WHO Radio Wise Guys - June 4, 2016

Trends, tips, and technology

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June 2, 2016

Computers and the Internet Google Express launches -- aggressively -- all over and around Texas

Next-day delivery (or two-day delivery) for a lot of goods is promised all over the state, not just in densely-populated areas as one might expect.

Computers and the Internet Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter agree to a European code of conduct

They promise to take down hate speech within 24 hours. It's a complex issue: On one hand, sunlight is usually the best disinfectant -- so revealing the identities of people with awful things to say and subjecting them to public shame and scorn would likely be more productive than scrubbing their comments...but anonymity is so easy to achieve online that it's probably not plausible to do so. On the other hand, when hateful speech takes up space in the public square (as the Internet now serves), people may begin to see it as normal rather than deviant. It's not a conscious or deliberate act to accept anti-social behavior as normal; it's just a natural consequence of familiarity.

Science and Technology King Tut's dagger didn't rust because it was partially made of meteorite

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that something special like a space rock would have been used to make something for a king

Business and Finance Saudi Arabian government fund to invest $3.5 billion in Uber

Uber is supposedly pushing hard to expand in the Middle East, and the investment satisfies Uber's hunger for cash investment and the Saudi government's need to put oil profits to use in industries other than petroleum. Having a great endowment of any natural resource (like oil) can subject an economy to a perverse natural-resources curse. Whether investments like one in Uber are the right ticket out isn't a certainty, but it's likely a step in the right direction.

June 1, 2016

News Donald Trump's completely inadequate summer reading list

He claims (dubiously) to be planning to get through a book on Hillary Clinton, a book on Richard Nixon, and "All Quiet on the Western Front". Real leaders need to read widely and be able to talk and write about what they've been reading. Theodore Roosevelt was a voracious reader, reputedly speed-reading a full book a day. In Benjamin Franklin's words, "From a Child I was fond of Reading, and all the little Money that came into my Hands was ever laid out in Books." Our military leaders insist on sharing long and thoughtful reading lists for the professional development of the officers serving beneath them. A dignified occupant of the White House should be a reader-in-chief as well.

Computers and the Internet Australian government confuses "CC:" for "BCC:"

In telling thousands of women who had applied for consideration in government appointments that they would need to follow a different procedure to apply, someone in the government used the "CC:" field to address the list. The problem, obviously, is that the field is open to everyone on the list -- and while email addresses aren't strictly private things, revealing thousands of addresses tied to a specific program definitely isn't a savvy way to manage anyone's IT.

Computers and the Internet Twitter suspends parody account mocking Putin

Was there concern that "@darthputinkgb" would somehow be confused for the real person? Hardly. The parody tweets were original and unmistakably mocking. One of the highest roles to be played by free speech is in permitting people to mock their political leaders.

Computers and the Internet MySpace got hacked

And if you have a legacy account there, you should seriously consider resetting your password or pulling the plug on the account altogether

Science and Technology Elon Musk says Tesla 3 owners will have to pay for their own charges

The fancier, higher-end cars (Models S and X) come with free charging at the company's Supercharger sites, but Tesla wants people to charge their cars at the home and office. There's one Supercharger site in Iowa. The advantage to using the Tesla chargers is that they are so much faster than regular charging.

May 31, 2016

Computers and the Internet Microsoft doesn't like your password

If it's one of the most common passwords, the company isn't going to allow users to employ it. They're going to "dynamically ban common passwords", based on the lists they can automatically generate of the most over-used passwords. That means "123456" is out, and so are a lot of others like it. Microsoft will use the new dynamic banning policy on Microsoft accounts like Hotmail, Outlook, Xbox, and OneDrive. Unsurprisingly, they're also pushing users to activate two-factor authentication, too. Interestingly, Microsoft's research finds that it's actually counterproductive to force people to change passwords regularly because it leads to the use of more predictable passwords. And people are already dangerously predictable.

The United States of America Gary Johnson talking sense on immigration

Growing reason to take seriously the Libertarian candidate

Computers and the Internet There are too many versions of Android floating around

What's good for Google -- to have the single, latest OS out there universally -- is bad for the phone-sellers who want people to have to buy new hardware to get the latest software

Threats and Hazards Trump adviser says the Orange Menace would make the Vice President do all the work

Nobody needs an over-eager, micromanaging President. But we're fools if we're hiring someone who doesn't plan to do the job.

Threats and Hazards Series of shipwrecks kills 500 people in Mediterranean

If 500 Americans or Europeans died in a plane crash, it would make non-stop headline news. There should be no less respect for the loss of lives from Syria and other troubled nations.

The United States of America Book review: "Stand for Something", by John Kasich

Certainly not the worst political memoir/position book ever written, but definitely not as strong as Kasich's actual record

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May 30, 2016

Business and Finance Book review: "When Genius Failed: The rise and fall of Long-Term Capital Management", by Roger Lowenstein

Had it been a work of fiction, nobody would believe it -- but it's an important documentation of modern financial history